International funds sought to assist Indonesian flood survivors

Tens of thousands of people remain homeless or in need of urgent help in Indonesia, following the flash floods and torrential rains, which struck the eastern coast of Sumatra on 22 December 2006.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is calling for international financial assistance to assist around 100,000 people affected by the floods over the next three months.

On behalf of the Indonesian Red Cross, 3.3 million Swiss francs ($2.7 million USD / € 2 million) are being sought to meet the water, sanitation and medical needs of 20,000 families living in Aceh, North Sumatra and Riau - the areas hardest hit by the floods. The money will also be used to provide vulnerable families with relief goods, including food, blankets, cooking stoves and baby items.

In total, the floods and downpours affected more than 618,000 people and caused widespread devastation in areas still recovering from the 2004 tsunami.

"Rivers overflowed and submerged more than 35,000 homes," says Bob McKerrow, the head of the International Federation's delegation in Indonesia. "There was massive damage to streets and bridges and some remote areas remain inaccessible because the roads were washed away or covered in soil."

Extensive damage was caused to crops, rice fields and plantations, taking a heavy toll on people's livelihoods in a region where up to half the population lives below the poverty line.

"I can't understand what is happening to our country," says Rosemawati, a mother-of-five who has been living in a tent and selling vegetables in Aceh over the past few weeks. "So many disasters keep happening to us... I guess all we can do is face up to it and do the best we can in order to survive."

Since the floods hit, staff and volunteers from the Indonesian Red Cross have been helping rescue stranded people and providing first aid, medicines, food, blankets, tents, tarpaulins, hurricane lamps, mosquito nets, stoves and hygiene items to people in all three of the affected areas.

"Because of the holiday period, people outside of the region may not have seen the news or been aware of the situation in Sumatra," says McKerrow.

"We're hoping to raise international awareness of the plight of tens of thousands of people in flood-stricken areas, who have begun the new year with just the clothes on their backs, and who desperately need access to clean water, housing and help in restoring their livelihoods," he adds.

For further information, or to set up interviews, please contact:

In Aceh: Teresita Usapdin, Information Officer Tel: +62 812 1003 599
Matthew Cochrane, Tsunami Operations Media Officer Tel. + 41 79 308 9804 / +41 22 730 4426
Media Service Duty Phone Tel. + 41 79 416 38 81